How to install provider apps Edit
Provider apps Edit
This article is about apps or applications for your mobile device. Not about any apps, but these released by the operator of your SIM card. They have improved a lot throughout the last couple of years.
They can be a very handy and convenient way to check your balance and allowances, verify validity, manage your plan, add more credit or buy another package or an add-on. These new apps can cover all management tasks of a SIM card today. On the downside, they also pose some risks. Often they are not translated and in the home language of the provider only. They can't be directly transferred to a translator tool like websites which can lead to some misunderstandings. Some hide own or 3rd party payable services that can be subscribed by a few clicks without knowing. So better be careful using an app in a foreign language.
Availability of provider apps Edit
Apps are normally available in Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store to be downloaded from there depending on the operation system and manufacturer of your device. You have done this with many apps before and should be familiar with this process by now. But with some apps of foreign providers, you will notice that they are not shown to you in your official store. The reason for this is that about half of the apps are so-called 'geo-restricted'. That means, they are only offered in the local App or Play Store of the provider country and not to you coming from a different country. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, as they don't enfringe property rights which is the usual cause for geo-restriction. Furthermore, this restriction can't be easily bypassed by changing your IP address to that particular country e.g. by a VPN tool. Your store will still stay locked to your home country, even if you are using an IP address of the visiting country. That's why you often still can't find the app of your foreign operator, even when you are using one of its SIM cards.
Here is a short manual how to bypass this obstacle on Android and Apple devices. The steps and choices are somewhat different according to operating system. But you should first check your official App or Play Store if the app is offered to you or not. Be aware that you'll need to find the local app of the provider. Vodafone for instance has different apps for every country it is operating. Even if they all look pretty much the same, they won't work in another country. So for Vodafone in Germany you'll need 'Mein Vodafone' and in the Netherlands or UK different 'My Vodafone' apps. This may be one reason for the geo-restriction as the chance for a mix-up is immense.
If it's offered in your official store, you can download and install it in the usual way. If not, things become more complicated and we should consider both major operating systems separately.
Installation of geo-restricted apps Edit
on Android devices Edit
As Google offers a more open access to your device than Apple does, you have basically two choices:
(1) If you allow apps to be installed from "unknown sources" (in the advanced settings menu) you can download the provider app as .apk file in one of the many clone stores of Play. But beware that there is a lot of malware around in these stores and use a virus check before installing. Nevertheless, this is still the easiest way to install the geo-restricted app, before you travel to your destination country.
Android links your Google account to a particular country and to the local Play store, normally that of your home. You haven't been asked for it, but you are attached to it anyhow. But this can be undone. VPN providers advertise with bypassing the geo-restriction. This is true to video streaming and many other uses, but not for the Play Store. Simply changing the IP address remains totally useless in this reference.
(2) If you are already in the country of your new SIM card, you can do another procedure. As for this your data connection needs to go through your new SIM, it should be done there. If you need it for a roaming SIM, the following steps can also be done through a roaming network as long as your data goes through the SIM for which you want to install the provider app.
First, you need to remove the Google account that is attached to your Play store. For this go to your main Settings (not those in Play store), Accounts, click Google and your existing account, click menu and 'remove'. Before removal you should be sure of your Google account address and password to re-install it later. After clicking the Play Store icon, you will receive a message, that no account is linked and you need to link either an existing or a new account to it. You can go both ways. But it's sufficient to re-link your old account that you have disassociated only moments ago, if you don't have given a billing source to Google. Be sure, that data goes through your new SIM. After your old account has been re-linked or a new one has been linked you are in the local Play Store of the country of your new SIM now and the app suddenly appears to be selected, downloaded and installed through Play.
This app will stay in your list and gets updates from Google, even if you change back to your home country store later. This gives you the reverse problem, that you are in the foreign Play store now. Don't worry, all your home apps will still be maintained and updated. To change back to your old home store, just do the same procedure again using a SIM card (and data connection) from your home country. You might better wait for it, until you come back home.
on Apple (iOS) devices Edit
Like Google Apple doesn't restrict your local app store by an IP address, so changing the IP is totally useless for your purpose. But Apple sets your app store region by default to your home country at the first time you access your store with your new device creating an Apple ID. Apple generally doesn't allow 3rd party apps to be installed from outside of their own store. So this option is not given here, even it remains possible after you've done a jailbreak with your device.
But Apple allows you to change the country or region of your account. For this click on the App Store icon, scroll down to the end of the menu, click Featured and scroll down to see Apple ID with your email address. Click this thumbnail and select 'view Apple ID'. Then you are required to sign in to the iTunes Store by giving your password. Once that's done, click on 'change country or region' and select country or region from the list, click next and agree twice. You don't need to give a credit card, but you should give a valid address and postcode even if you have declined to give a payment system. You can use an hotel or any address you can find in that country. After having entered all this data, click next and done. Your app store will now be set to the new country or region and the operator's app is now displayed in the store and can be downloaded and installed.
As Apple users often need it a bit more graphic, here is the same procedure shown in pictures by Apple and an independent source . Under certain conditions there are some reasons why Apple restricts this switch of countries, that are given here in detail by Apple. If it doesn't work for you, check if you belong to one of the banned users. Then you should think of creating a new Apple ID with another email address instead. How to do it is shown by Apple in detail in this manual.